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NEWS | May 24, 2024

New commander at helm of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam

By Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

Capt. Rob Kistner took command of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam from Capt. Nick Simmons in a change of command ceremony at Victor Pier in Apra Harbor, Guam, on May 23, 2024.

Rear Adm. Michael Day, U.S. Coast Guard 14th District commander, presided over the ceremony.

Hailing from Tallahassee, Florida, Capt. Simmons is a 2002 U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate with a degree in government, emphasizing international relations. After three years as the commander, he leaves Guam to rejoin the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters staff as the chief of the Office of Budget and Programs (CG-82).

Under his leadership since June 2021, the team robustly embodied the guiding principles of 'People Fundamentally, Unit Resolutely, Mission Relentlessly,' demonstrating substantial operational capability and regional collaboration. Under effective leadership, they responded to 1,593 search and rescue operations, saving 548 lives and nearly $2 million in property while providing crucial non-maritime medical evacuations in the Northern Mariana Islands. Additionally, the team expanded by 40 percent to support new Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) and the establishment of Base Guam.

A core focus has been on enhancing partnerships with Compact of Free Association nations by signing and exercising two enhanced bilateral agreements. This initiative, alongside the first operational patrols under a new agreement with Papua New Guinea, significantly advanced regional maritime security and reinforced commitments to safety and good maritime governance across the Pacific. The FRCs notably increased the U.S. Coast Guard's Pacific presence and impact, strengthening regional ties and patrolling over 60,000 nautical miles annually. These efforts include delivering tens of thousands of pounds of aid and conducting shared operations and exercises with 10 Pacific nations and local, federal, and joint force partners.

The sector's prompt and efficient response to Super Typhoon Mawar in May 2023 highlighted operational excellence. Quick action ensured the restoration of critical infrastructure and the continuity of Guam's port operations—essential to the regional economy. The team excelled in over 1,300 exercises, exams, boardings, responses, and investigations annually, bolstering the maritime transportation system and environmental stewardship, crucial for sustaining Guam as a strategic Pacific hub. Through robust strategic communication and community engagement, the team increased its visibility. It affirmed the U.S. Coast Guard's pivotal role in promoting peace, maritime safety, security, and regional cooperation, further establishing its reputation as a leader committed to excellence and service in the Pacific.

Capt. Rob Kistner joins the Forces Micronesia team after serving as the chief of Prevention for the U.S. Coast Guard 14th District, where he adeptly oversaw maritime safety and security operations across 12.2 million square miles, covering 21 maritime nations and more than half of the world's shipping. He also supported Sector Honolulu, Forces Micronesia, their sub-units, and USCGC Juniper (WLB 201) and USCGC Sequoia (WLB 215) in enhancing maritime incident prevention, supply chain resiliency, and governance. He will be the interim commander until the Fall of 2024 when Capt. Jessica Worst is scheduled to arrive from her current assignment on the U.S. Northern Command staff.

Before his role in the Pacific, Capt. Kistner, a native of Rochester, New York, shaped his expertise in Coast Guard operations through diverse assignments. He served aboard USCGC Seneca (WMEC 906) as an engineer officer in training and damage control assistant, led the Facility Inspections and Deep Draft Vessel Inspections Branches at Sector Baltimore, and managed regulatory compliance as Inspections Division chief at Sector Boston.

As deputy commander of Sector Western Great Lakes, he oversaw a team of 1,137 members across 15 sub-units, covering over 1,000 miles of shoreline from Vermillion, Ohio, to the St. Lawrence Seaway. His staff roles include positions at the Leadership Development Center, the Coast Guard Academy, and Coast Guard Headquarters, enhancing his experience with workforce development and honing his strategic insight.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in operations research, a master's certificate in environmental management, and a Master of Science in applied mathematics. His dedication and leadership have earned him multiple awards, including three Meritorious Service Medals and three Coast Guard Commendation Medals.

-USCG-

About U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam:

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam is critical in promoting Pacific maritime safety, security, and environmental stewardship. With a primary presence in Guam and Saipan and over 300 members across Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team maintains a strong U.S. presence in the Micronesia sub-region and adjacent areas, closely tied to local communities. Their capabilities are integral to executing a wide range of U.S. Coast Guard missions, from protecting the maritime economy and the environment to defending maritime borders and saving those in peril.

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